mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Things I love about comics, part 1764. 

That the marketplace was able to support a Gabby Hayes Western series for 59 issues.

It probably sold about 200,000 copies (or more) an issue, too.

For more info about Gabby Hayes, may I suggest this site, or this one?

For those of you who happened to see it...yes, this is a reworked version of a post that was up briefly yesterday. I wasn't happy with it, plus it contained a factual error that blew a gag I was trying to make. That original post is now a Rare Collector's Item, so be sure to keep it safe in its Mylar bag!

Friday, April 13, 2007

And now, some reader-generated content. 

I get some interesting e-mails, so keep them a'comin', friends. I always like to hear from you, especially when you let me slide on coming up with my own content for a day send me neat stuff like this.

First, reader Caleb (from Every Day Is Like Wednesday) pointed me in the direction of a scene in this week's Legion of Monsters: Man-Thing one-shot that resembles some Swamp Thing shenanigans from a few years ago. Now, I wasn't planning on picking up this new Man-Thing comic, so I didn't notice the scene in question at first...but darn if Caleb ain't right. To wit:

Legion of Monsters: Man-Thing (2007)

Swamp Thing #159 (1995)

Aside from the shared swamp-creature-head-on-plate motif, the stories are entirely different in purpose and effect, so it's certainly just a coincidence. Heck, the fact that Swamp Thing and Man-Thing debuted nearly simultaneously is a big ol' coincidence in and of itself, so what's one more?

The next item e-mailed to me comes from reader Chad, who quite correctly notes that I love finding and sharing oddball things on the eBay, and thus decided to send to me a link to some good old fashioned nightmare fuel. Ladies and/or gentlemen, I present to you Wonder Woman as you've never seen her before:

"Pose her every which way" indeed.

And, from one of my favorite webloggers, Booksteve, comes a note that he wrote about that Life is a dollar twenty-five paperback B.C. book well over a year before either Mark Evanier or I did. See, all three of us agree it's a good gag! We must be right!

Speaking of repeating things from the past, I see that terrible Doomworld comic, based on the computer game, is making the rounds again. One of the very first posts on my site, near the end of 2003, was an entry about that Doom comic, where I mention that I'd been seeing references to it all over the internet. I guess, three and half years later, it's finally cycled back into everyone's awareness. If you hadn't seen Doomworld already, it's definitely worth checking out. It's not just bad...it's magnificently bad.

And I'd rather see something like Doomworld make the rounds again, than something like the Hamster Dance, or Mr. T Ate My Balls, or whatever. I kiss you!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Some Free Comic Book Day stuff, and another sad passing. 

It just occurred to me that, aside from my mention of folks not understanding when the event actually is, I haven't really said a whole lot about Free Comic Book Day.

Well, I don't know that I have a whole lot to add beyond what I've already said last year (before and after), so aside from some comments about some of this year's offerings, and any horror stories that may arise from the day itself, I'll probably not be talking too much about it.

That said, I do want to note some things: Marvel's offering this time around has the potential, for once, of actually being good. A new, full-length, Dan Slott written and Phil Jimenez drawn Spider-Man story, which will be out about the time of Spider-Man 3...barring any inappropriate content for younger readers (always possible, given Marvel's usual "two giant steps backward for every tiny step forward" publishing strategy), this could make a nice all-ages giveaway.

On the other hand, we have DC's Justice League of America #0.

Now, there's a joke I use at the store every once in a while, when a customer asks me about trying jump into a new Marvel or DC series. If the title in question is one of those that requires extensive knowledge of that company's "universe," or just of the book's history...if it just requires plain ol' geeky knowledge, I'll refer to the book as being "for the advanced reader."

I would say that Justice League of America #0 is "for the advanced reader." On top of needing to know your DC continuity (or whatever passes for it, nowadays), you need to be ready for the fact that the story jumps back and forth in time, from panel to panel. Don't get me wrong...I enjoyed the comic when it was originally released, and the DC dork that I am got a kick out of all its continuity-candy. But it's a real "preaching to the converted" offering...this is one of those FCBD comics designed to get folks already reading comics to try yet another comic they might not be reading. Non-comics fans, or even casual readers, may not be ready for a non-linear, continuity-heavy superhero book, particularly if their only regular exposure to comics is the comparatively more straightforward storytelling techniques in their local papers' funnypages.

DC is also offering a comic based on their Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon, which makes up for it. This type of comic is a very effective tool for outreach to kids. "Hey, you watch that Legion cartoon? Here, have a comic based on it!" Replace "Legion" with "Justice League Adventures" or "Teen Titans," and you have DC's successful giveaways from past FCBDs. (I left out the Batman Strikes comic, since, well, our customers don't seem to react well to that cartoon.)

I am looking foward to the FCBD Gumby Special (because the new Gumby comics rule your school), Owly & Korgi (because Owly is cuter than a cute thing that's cute, with a side helping of cuteness), and the new FCBD Nexus Special (because Nexus is one of the Most Perfect Comics Ever, particularly with Baron 'n' Rude back at the helm, and you all better read this series or I'm going to your houses and giving you serious noogies).

So, any FCBD titles you guys 'n' gals are waiting for?

When I was a junior in high school, lo these two or so decades ago, I was in an art class, and one of our assignments was to draw a face, with an emphasis on shading. Well, it just so happened that I was reading a certain book at the time, and thought the author's photo on the back cover would make a good subject for this particular project.

Normally, I wouldn't whip out old, embarrassing drawings of mine...the eyes are a bit off-center, I realize, and it sorta looks like a cross between Bob Ross and Sidney from M*A*S*H...but, for Kurt Vonnegut, I can bear a little public humiliation. Besides, this drawing, for all its flaws, remains a favorite of mine, if only because it reminds me of Vonnegut and my love for his work.

It's been a while since I've read, or reread, one of his novels, come to think of it. I suddenly have the urge to read Slapstick again.

So long, Kurt.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"Looks like protoplasm." 

from a coverless Sugar & Spike comic (1969)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Coincidence, old posts, shipping costs, The Black Hole and D&D. And not a whole lot about comics. 

  • Something must be in the air...after beating Mr. Evanier to the punch (by about 16 hours) with my discussion of my...or rather, our...favorite B.C. gag, it turns out that Mr. Folded Soup preceded me in my discussion of superhero cakes.

    With the amount of content being generated for weblogs like ours, near-simultaneous duplications like these are almost inevitable. In the case of Mr. Evanier and I approaching our favorite B.C. gag from the same angle...well, Johnny Hart did just pass away, so naturally there's going to be a lot of discussion about him, and this sort of coincidence was bound to happen. Plus, it just confirms Evanier's already solid reputation as a man of quality and taste, since he's agreed with me on a good B.C. gag.

    But the cake thing...okay, that's just weird. I happened across that auction on the eBay while looking for other stuff, and wanted to share. I had no idea Senior Soup recently addressed the topic, and in a far more amusing fashion (so go look already).

    So, to sum up...nobody copied anybody, it was all just coincidence. Besides, if I was going to rip anybody off, it'd probably be Sims, since I could totally take him in a fight.

  • Speaking of the eBay...I'm linking to this old post of mine about how to ship comic books safely and economically for the benefit of Employees Aaron and Jeff, who hadn't seen it. The topic came up when I came across the prop envelope from that post the other day, mixed in with my shipping supplies, and they were wondering just what the heck was up with it. "Look to my site, my friends," I cried out, and lo, they did rush to their Internets and found themselves confronted with wisdom and glory.

    Anyway, if you reread that post, please note that the flat rate priority shipping is now $4.05...soon to be $4.60, beginning in May.

  • Also speaking of the eBay, I occasionally get the urge to find the original Black Hole action figures for V.I.N.Cent and Old B.O.B., and I hie myself hither to the eBay and do some searching. I never bid...I come to my senses before I do so, but I do like looking at the figures, since those are probably two of my favorite movie robot designs. Yeah, I know that's probably a weird thing to have favorites for...my nerdity has unplumbed depths.

    Anyway, I found someone selling a V.I.N.Cent, but he was charging a cool $12.00 domestic shipping. Dude, I could probably ship that toy for half that price at most...unless it's heavier than it looks, it would most likely even ship at the minimum $4.05 price. Six to eight bucks "handling fees" seems a tad excessive. Even using the flat rate priority box, it would only cost $8.10 max (or nine-something starting in May).

    "So, Mike, bitchy much?"

  • Nothing really to do with comics, much like the rest of this post, but I came across this vintage Dungeons & Dragons ad in an old Omni magazine:

    You know, I can think of a few times when I would have liked to have had a sword while out eating dinner.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Great Zot. 

One of my favorite gags from Johnny Hart's B.C. comic wasn't in one of the strips, but rather the title of one of the many paperback reprint collections:

By itself, I think that's pretty amusing, but it's this note on the title page (and also at the bottom of the front cover) that really makes it for me:

I wonder how high in price the title eventually got...though I suppose once you get to "Life is a five dollar ninety-nine cent paperback," it's no longer funny as much as it is depressing.

EDIT: Mark Evanier just put up a post discussing this very same book...and mentions that there was a British edition (Life is a fifty pence paperback).

Johnny Hart passed away over the weekend, and I know the man had his share of controversy regarding his strips, and that the strip's humor suffered in its later years...but Hart's earlier work is funny and witty and just plain silly, and as a young Mikester I read and reread and read again all the B.C. paperbacks I could get my hands on. So thank you for that, at least, Mr. Hart.

Slightly related story...when I was a senior in high school, just about to graduate, I went on a tour of the University of California Irvine campus for their annual "spend your parents' money at our school" membership drive. The mascot of the school is the anteater, inspired by the anteater character from B.C., and the sound effect associated with that character, "Zot," also became a part of the school's culture.

Anyway, as our particular group was being shown around campus, our student tour leader attempted to explain the mascot to us. After telling us it was an anteater, she explained that the school cheer was "Zot" because "um...I think it's because that's the noise an anteater makes when it eats an ant."

So, yeah, pretty much no clue that it came from B.C.. Okay, it may have been technically correct, at least on the comic strip's terms...and no, I didn't try to elaborate on her explanation. I didn't want to be that guy. Well, not until I got my own weblog, anyway.

Speaking of those paperback reprints...I haven't been to the humor section of a bookstore lately, at least not looking for strip reprints, but it seems to me that this particular format is pretty much dead. Instead, we have those larger format books, like the collections for Foxtrot and Dilbert. The last time I saw those old-style paperbacks was in the late '90s, when I was on a Peanuts kick and I was tracking down reprints of those latter-day Schulz strips. There was at least one Peanuts collection I found in that original paperback format, and it was priced (as I joked about that B.C. paperback above) at $5.99. I thought that was just a little too dear for what I was getting, so I passed on purchasing (but in retrospect, the cost per strip was probably comparable to what you're getting in, say, one of the later Foxtrot volumes...someday I'll do the math).

So, is that standard-sized pocketbook strip reprint format gone now? A quick Amazon search on the most likely suspect to still be in that format, Family Circus, reveals that it's been about ten years since the last release in that format (and Good Lord, thirty-two bucks?). I guess the perceived value of those smaller reprint books just isn't enough to maintain sales, compared to the larger volumes.

One more thing about B.C.'s influence on me...whenever I see a "DIP" or "DIP IN ROAD" street sign, I always, always, recall this cover:

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Have a swingin' Easter! 

from Flash #208 (Aug. 1971) by Robert Kanigher, Irv Novick & Murphy Anderson

Happy Easter, everyone! And if you don't celebrate Easter...Happy Sunday!

See you tomorrow!

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